Archive for the ‘Lessons’ Category


A Time To TellThe theme for the Boy Scout Troop 68 meetings in April was personal safety. The troop had a local police officer come to the first meeting to talk to the Scouts about how to stay safe and what sort of things officers look out for when dealing with youth. It was my turn to talk about safety during the second troop meeting. I grabbed my flat screen television with the built-in DVD player and my copy of A Time To Tell. We would be watching some of the videos during the meeting.

A Time To Tell is a series of videos produced by the Boy Scouts of America. The DVD contains five videos. According to the scoutstuff.org website: With introductions and “reality checks” by teens for teens, A Time to Tell presents a variety of situations that young people may encounter. These scenes stress the importance of the three R’s of Youth Protection: Recognize strategies and situations used by child molesters to isolate an adolescent that can lead to attempted molestation; Resist attempts of child molesters; and Report individuals who attempt to molest or who have molested in the past.
http://www.scoutstuff.org/bsa/literature-media/dvd/educational/a-time-to-tell-dvd.html

Due to the subject matter of the videos I invited all the parents to attend and watch the films with the Scouts. Several of them took the offer. Due to the time limit I was only able to show three of the videos. After each video I would ask the Scouts a couple questions and hold a short discussion. Later, as the boys played during their game time, I had the chance to talk to the parents. They all agreed that the videos did a good job of getting the message across to the boys and that we did a good job of highlighting the important parts of the videos.

Have you ever used the A Time To Tell videos within your own troop? How did the Scouts react?

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    weight-scaleI was the runt of my class. I was the smallest boy, both in weight and in height. In fact, most of the girls in my class were taller than I was. When I was in tenth grade another guy moved into our class. Suddenly, I was not the shortest guy in the class of ’78. In eleventh grade I finally hit a couple growth spurts. I may not have been the shortest anymore, but I was still one of the lightest. Skinny kids do not weigh much after all.

    I stopped growing when I hit 5′-8″ tall. I remained skinny throughout my twenties. I began to put on some weight when I was in my thirties, finally hitting the 160′s. I soon began to realize that my metabolism had changed. In my early 40′s I hit 170 pounds. By my late 40′s I had made it into the 180′s. Sitting behind a desk most of the day was taking a toll, and all the snacking was not helping matters. I still remember the first time a young Boy Scout called me fat, but it was not enough of a shock to make me do anything about my weight.

    On Monday morning, March 3rd, I stepped on the scale and was shocked to see that I weighed 193 pounds. No wonder my clothes were not fitting well any more. I thought to myself that I needed to do something before this got any worse. I got dressed, had breakfast, and went to work. End of subject. Forgotten once again.

    The next day a coworker of mine asked me to help him with a program his wife had downloaded to her tablet. It was a calorie counting app she was using to help her lose weight. He wanted to lose several pounds himself but could not figure out how to create an account for himself. I downloaded the app to my iPad, quickly learned how to use it, and showed him what he needed to do.

    He came to me just at the right time. I decided to try using the app myself. I set a goal to loose two pounds per week for 11 weeks to get my weight down to 170 pounds by May 20th. Of course, it was all up to me really. I would have to watch my I eat, and how much of it, and record it into the app. It gave me a daily calorie goal to stay within to loose the weight. I also needed to get out and exercise some more.

    My eating habits are probably the same as most people. My meal portions were too big. I ate too my fast food and junk food. And I snacked too much between meals. This app quickly showed me the areas I needed to change to reach my goal.

    It has been over 8 weeks since I began my diet experiment. I am happy to report that I am still using the app and still watching what I eat. I have cut way back on the snacking. I very seldom eat at fast food joints anymore. I have cut back on the size of the portions at mealtime. I still get a little hungry between meals but my efforts have paid off. I am on target and have lost 16 pounds so far! There was no fancy diet plan, no exercising until I drop from exhaustion.

    It was nice to have to punch a new hole in my belt to hold my pants up. My shirts and jackets are fitting much better. It is great to be back in a suitable area on the Boy Scout physical weight chart. I look forward to reaching my goal just a few weeks before I head to Philmont Training Center in June. And yes, I do realize that once I hit my goal weight I will always have to watch what I eat to maintain it, but I have a positive outlook.

    Sorry Burger King and McDonalds. You will not be seeing me often anymore.

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      Scouter MagazineI was working on my second patch blanket today and came up to a spot for which I needed a patch. Along the edge of the blanket I have been placing patches that do not really fit with an activity I have attended. Instead, I have been using special patches for anniversaries, special occasions, and generic type things. I needed one of these type of patches for a spot around the perimeter of the blanket.

      I began to look through my notebooks and bins to find one that would be a good one for the spot. I found one that would fit well, but it also reminded me of a magazine I once subscribed to that does not exist anymore. It was a patch given to charter subscriber of Scouter Magazine, an independent publication about Scouting, written by Scouters. I really enjoyed reading this magazine. It was full of great ideas and articles written by Scout Leaders from around the country. It was not meant to replace Scouting Magazine, but was a publication for adults in Scouting to share ideas in the late 1990′s. Remember, the internet was just starting to get popular and there was not a lot about Scouting online yet.

      Scouter Magazine only lasted for about five years, unfortunately. I still have my issues, which are probably collector items by now. Then again, maybe not. Most of the people who received the magazine have probably left Scouting and thrown away their issues. It would be great if someday this publication could be started again, along with an electronic version. Bring it into the 21st century. I bet they would have a lot easier time getting articles from contributors these days. But then, when you think about it, maybe blogging has taking that role. HalfEagle.com has done a good job about bringing some of the best blogs about Scouting into one easy to use format.

      As I was looking online for information about Scouter Magazine this evening, the only thing I found was an open letter written in February 2001 about the closing of Scouter Magazine. (Read it at http://old.scouter.com/magazine.asp )

      Oh well, the magazine may be a part of history but my patch will finally see the light of day as it goes from the notebook to the blanket. At least people who see the blanket will know that for a short while I was a charter subscriber to Scouter Magazine.

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        socratesA scoutmaster took out his phone at the roundtable Tuesday night to show me something that was written many centuries ago about the younger generation, but seemed to be written about many of today’s youth. After reading it I had him email it to me so that I could share it with all of you.

        Socrates wrote. . . “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt fot authority; they show disrepsect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

        But, Plato in the Republic argued that youth should learn the cardinal virtues of wisdom, bravery, temperance and justice through adversity and adventure, and that young people could learn lessons about virtue best by impelling them into adventurous situations that demanded that virtues be exercised.

        Was Plato talking about Scouting before Scouting existed? Uncanny, isn’t it?

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          MikeL30(The following article was written by Mike Linnemann, an alumni of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Mike was a member of the troop from 1997 to 2003. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout. It is the fifth of a series of guest articles written by former members of Troop 68.)

          Scouting: An Investment of Character
          By Mike Linnemann

          I’m an Eagle Scout and my Scouting experience, like my present tense designation, has not ceased.
          Spending over six years as a teenager was nothing short of transformative during those tumultuous hormonally unbalanced years. I look back at my experience as a Boy Scout not as one of developing skills from merit badges, learning synonyms to describe myself from the Scout Law and living up to a higher ideal. I think of my time as learning experiences in innovative thinking.

          At the time, I went through my advancement like most boys. Upon achieving one rank, the next would fall in line. Not unlike a job progression in a career, a linear path was always laid out before me. While along this journey, a seminal moment made me pause.

          Upon reaching the rank of Eagle Scout, I briefly examined how this feat affected my future. While doing so, it felt like a moment. Looking back, I stopped my advancement as soon as I realized. I earned zero palms and only a few mere more merit badges with my remaining two years. I sacrificed my drive to understand the greater situation. I think similar aspects happen when apprentices, students really, achieve most milestones. I thought of my individual experiences while in my troop very rarely. I was in varsity school sports and one goal turned into another. New paths always came from another’s end. At that time, aged sixteen, I had been in the troop for five years and many of my friends had left the troop and I finally became aware of it.

          Upon arriving as an eleven year old, I came into my troop with two patrols. Half of my friends were in each Cub Scout den. We decided to keep the dens as patrols. Due to the division, my friends slowly trickled off, along with most of the other members to pursue academic interests or the other short list of rural activities that boys partake in. At age sixteen, finally, I was able to look objectively at our issue. Were we to separate the haves from the have-nots and could I have accepted seeing six to eight people quit immediately? I was aware of the odds at the time. It was a visceral feeling that I knew would benefit me greatly on a personal level, but I would actively be sacrificing others. Advice from other scouts told me what was inevitable, that many would quit before reaching their full Scouting tenure. We made the right choice and I wouldn’t change it.

          These aspects of brotherhood aren’t shown, nor discussed openly. My troop and community taught us life’s rules but also showed how to bend and change that which can negatively affect our lives to benefit the greater community.

          While writing this, it’s eye opening to see how much we impacted our local community. I saw “our,” because an individual can only do so much. That is, until I met our gay Scout.

          In fact, he is an Eagle Scout and wasn’t “out” at the time. He was a shining example of what a teenage citizen means and my community rallied around that ideal. He stood out and we knew it. I thought nothing of it at the time but now, I utilize my troop and community’s reaction to this one Scout. The Boy Scouts very recently voted to include gay scouts, relenting on such stringent admission standards for mere boys who just want to be part of something greater than themselves. We all knew of him and it didn’t matter. Looking back, this only illuminates how important troops were to development of model citizens, beacons of good in a community. In our troop, we bent the rules to accommodate.

          That’s what I learned from Scouting. Do the right thing, despite what the odds or the negative reactions will invariably be.

          Doing the right thing is a part of being prepared, our own Scout motto. There are ideals greater than you or I, or even humanity itself. Our religious basis shuns the self and prepares us for humble lifelong service. Only Eagle Scouts place their honor on their resume but the relevant past that binds Scouts together, whether they reach the pinnacle or mere tenderfoots is real. That stickiness of Scouting usually leaves members if they leave a community, but the character building is with us always.

          These minor incidents of compromise, inclusiveness and respectfulness are footnotes in our lives. We think to them when issues arise and I’m happy to think that my foundation is solid. It’s hard to describe to a parent why Scouting builds character and how the intangible parts of Scouting far outweigh any cost.

          In short, Scouting is an investment of character and my community invested well.

          Mike is an art director in Minneapolis, married and living with his three dachshunds.

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            1996YPS03(The following article was written by Brad Kramer, an alumni of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Brad was a member of the troop from 1995 to 1997. He earned the rank of Life Scout. It is the fourth of a series of guest articles written by former members of Troop 68.)

            What I got out of Scouts.

            I was in the Scouting program from the age of 8-18. It has made me who I am more than anything else in my youth. I can directly attribute some of my favorite jobs and adventures to my time as a Scout. After high school, I headed up to the Boundary Waters where I was a Dogsled and Canoe Guide/Outfitter. There is no doubt that the skills I learned in Scouts, whether it was camping, survival, leadership, or many other skills, were what landed me this dream job. Being a Dogsled Guide up in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota allowed me to run dogsled in the middle of the night with a close-knit group of guides and amazing dogs, with only the northern lights and stars on the horizon rather than city lights. The only thing that resembled smog was the breath of a living creature in the -40 degree temperature. The scenery was beyond amazing, and the memories are some of the fondest I’ve ever had.

            My clients were people from all over the world who spent thousands of dollars on a vacation to do what I did every day. The skills I learned in Scouts taught me to tie any knot that was needed out in the wilderness, whether it was rigging a shelter, repairing a dog’s harness, starting a fire in windy weather in temperatures so cold that water was frozen before it hit the fresh snow, or how to splint my wrist when I broke it on a canoe trip by myself three days into the wilderness in the crisp October weather. Scouting taught me how to dress for the wilderness so I could be comfortable all day long on an eight hour trip, whether I was on the back of the sled getting whipped with -60 windchill, or out front, sweating and hot, while breaking trail through waist deep snow.

            In Scouting, I learned the value of community service, and taking pride in your community, as well as the camaraderie from being with others. Over the years, the skills and confidence from Scouting were directly used as a Firefighter and First Responder. All the first aid and CPR training prepared me for the First Responder program in college. In the years to come, I became involved in the community where I would apply my leadership and citizenship skills to the Constitution Party when I was my county’s Vice-Chairman and acting Chairman. Currently, I am a member of my community’s Chamber of Commerce, where I sit on the Business Education Partnership Committee and Government Affairs Committee. Learning compassion for animals and responsibility were ingrained in me in Scouting, and I used to volunteer for a horse rescue where I would help take care of abused and neglected horses.In my professional career, as a business manager, I have much of the leadership abilities I learned as a Scout to thank.

            As a Boy Scout, I rose through the ranks from Assistant Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, and Senior Patrol Leader. My troop put me through Junior Leadership Training, where I was asked to come back the following year to teach others what I had learned. The skills I learned in these roles have followed me everywhere I go and prepared me to lead others.

            As a Scout, we are taught to love our country and honor our heritage, taught to know our history, and respecting our flag is mandatory. Shortly after I graduated, when our country was attacked on 9-11, I enlisted in the military, and was part of the honor division in basic training. The self-discipline instilled in me as a Scout gave me the strength to march through endless drills, which were no more difficult than the miles we’d put on as Scouts at Philmont Scout Camp, where we’d march through 100+ degree temperatures for mile after mile over different terrain, and our bed was a tiny foam mat on the rocky ground, and our water was from creeks that had to be treated with iodine. To this day, I often think back to the many great memories from when I was 13 years old and experienced Philmont. Unfortunately, I was discharged from the Navy because of the hearing loss I’ve had since childhood, but I am proud of the many Scouts I’ve known over the years who have represented us well in our military, who served honorably and answered the call.

            As I think back to Scouting, and some of the experiences I had, whether it was whitewater rafting, rock climbing, backpacking, or camping, going to Philmont in New Mexico, Many Point Scout Camp in northern Minnesota, or winter camping at Troop 68′s own Watchamagumee, or just playing basketball with my fellow Scouts after a meeting, I have many fond memories. All the merit badges we were able to work on taught me a broad range of skills that I have used many times since, or expanded my horizons to interest me in new hobbies. The values that were taught to us as Scouts have helped me over the years to be a better person. Now, 15 years after I last wore the uniform, I can still recite as quickly from memory the Scout Law: A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

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              brads1(The following article was written by Brad Schulzetenberg, an alumni of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Brad was a member of the troop from 2000 to 2005. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout. It is the third of a series of guest articles written by former members of Troop 68.)

              Over the past 100 years, there have been over 110 million young men that have called themselves members of the Boy Scouts of America. What makes Scouting a great organization is that if you were to ask each of these 110 million Boy Scouts about their experience you would get 110 million different responses. My personal Scouting experience started in May of 2000, and unlike many Scouts, without a previous Cub Scout background. At the time, my perception of Scouting was camping, hiking, and tying knots, so I was unsure of what the scouting program had to offer. As I reflect back on my years of Scouting, I realize the vast positive impact it has had on who I am today.

              During my tenure as a Boy Scout, I was able to travel to some pretty cool places. In the summer of 2001, I attended the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Fort A.P. Hill Virginia. The 2001 National Jamboree was attended by over 40,000 scouts and leaders from around the world. I was fortunate enough to be one of the 72 Scouts from the Central Minnesota Council to have the opportunity to attend this event. I became a member of the Jamboree Troop 1417 with other Scouts from around Central Minnesota. In the months leading up to the Jamboree we had many meetings where we got to meet our fellow troop members, split into patrols, chose names, and designed troop and patrol flags.

              One of the most unique experiences at the Jamboree was trading patches with other Scouts. Before the Jamboree, every Boy Scout Council designed a special patch for the event. Often times the patches were personalized for their particular area of the country. In addition to interaction with others, I also was able to participate in activities such as rock climbing, snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving. On our trip to Virginia for the National Jamboree we did a lot of sightseeing as well. We stopped in Cleveland to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, spent two days in Washington D.C., and on the trip home we stopped in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Being able to interact with other Scouts from around the country, share stories, enjoy activities, and sightseeing was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me as a scout.

              My most enjoyable Scouting experience was a hiking trip to the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico during the summer of 2004. On this trip we spent 11 days hiking and camping in the wilderness while carrying everything that we needed to survive, including food, water, and sleeping gear. The Philmont experience is based around the principle of “low impact camping” in which the Scouts and leaders are encouraged to leave the campsites and hiking trails in the same, or better, condition as they were found. Each group of scouts and leaders that attend Philmont must complete a service project to improve hiking trails and campsites to preserve the natural environment. In addition to learning outdoor survival skills, I had the opportunity to hike the 12,441 foot tall Mount Baldy, which is the tallest point in Philmont. This was the most physically challenging and satisfying part of this trip. Everyone in our group made the hike to the top of the mountain which was a wonderful achievement or entire team. The Philmont experience is something I will always cherish and I hope someday I will have the opportunity to go again.

              From the moment I became a Boy Scout at age 13 I always had the goal of becoming an Eagle Scout. Fortunately for me Troop 68 encouraged advancement and earning merit badges. When I first joined the troop there were several older members that had already become Eagle Scouts and they served as a good example for the younger scouts. During my years in scouting I attended many troop outings and summer camps as well as held a variety of leadership positions including patrol leader and senior patrol leader. This involvement helped me gain the understanding of the commitment needed to become an Eagle Scout.

              For my Eagle project I held a drive in our local community and schools to accumulate school supplies and teaching materials for schools in Bosnia. I got this idea from a former Scout who was serving in the US military stationed in Bosnia at the time. In letters, he made me aware of the large need for supplies to help better the education. The support from the community was awesome, I received large amounts of supplies from local students and teachers. I even received a generous donation for the local Lions Club to purchase teaching materials. My Eagle Scout award has always been a rewarding accomplishment for me because less than five percent of all scouts have earned this award and it shows how much dedication and hard work I put forth to reach my goal.

              My Scouting experience has benefited me in my adult life in ways other than just lifelong friends and memories. Many people understand the importance of the Eagle Scout Award and for that reason I have always kept this accomplishment on my resume. In doing so, it has given me opportunities that may not have otherwise been available. While interviewing for a Design Engineering job at 3M (my current job), I spent a good portion of the interview talking about my experiences in Scouting and my Eagle project. The interviewer (my current manager) is actively involved in Scouting and has a son that is also an Eagle Scout. My manager has since told me that my Eagle Award was an important consideration in his decision to give me a chance to interview and eventually offer me a job.

              Through my job I have been a team leader for our 3M Engineering Community Giving campaign. As a leader of this team, I plan and coordinate volunteer events with other employees. My past experience doing service projects and leading my Eagle Project have given me a good perspective on how important service to others is. I have relied on my diverse background of service to others to help me identify volunteer opportunities for my company.

              The Boy Scout organization has been vital in shaping me into the person I am today. I learned many life skills, had unique opportunities to travel, and learned how important giving back to others can be.

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                patc1(The following article was written by Pat Christenson, an alumni of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Pat was a member of the troop from 1994 to 2001. He earned the Star Rank. It is the second of a few guest articles written by former members of Troop 68.)

                Scouting was an invaluable time in my life that gave me a great background of experience and abilities that I find useful every day. Whether it is tying knots, starting fires, camping, using a knife properly, or just a state of mind as to how I may approach a given challenge, many things lead back to Scouting. This doesn’t even touch on the fact that it was just a lot of fun!

                Probably the biggest lesson I learned in Scouting that I still fall back on to this day is to “be prepared.” I always keep this motto in mind as I go about my daily life. I try not to let things catch me by surprise and if there is anything I can do ahead of time to prepare for what’s in store, I will take the time to do so. Sometimes I may take a little too much time to prepare (just ask my wife), but I can’t begin to tell you how much this has lead my life in a great direction.

                The other major lesson that I still try to maintain to this day is to “do a good turn daily.” This is an important reminder that what you do affects others, and you should always try to look for something good you can do to help others. By having this frame of mind, you will always be ready to lend a hand, or pitch in when needed and help make our society great. If everyone took the time to think of others and try to think of even just one thing a day to give to others or their community, this world would be a much better place. As much as I may have groaned about it as a teenager, doing the tasks to help out the community, like road cleanup, or helping to collect food for the food shelf, are things that I can look back on in my younger years and feel proud of. Those tasks give you a sense of worth that is very important in life.

                As far as abilities, there are many things I feel confident about based on my time in Scouting. I learned many survival skills such as starting a fire, or making a shelter. I learned how to be a good steward of the environment and to leave any area better than when I arrived. This knowledge gives me a great deal of confidence that if I were to be in a situation where I was lost or stranded, I would know what to do.

                Now, how about the really fun part! I was able to participate in many activities that I more than likely wouldn’t have been able to do if it wasn’t for Scouting. The biggest one for me was going backpacking at Philmont Scout Ranch. I have so many great memories of that trip, and it was an experience of a lifetime. It started with a road trip to New Mexico from Minnesota. Somehow, we ended up in a van that only had AM radio, but we made it through! We then spent the next several days backpacking over 70 miles through the hills and mountains, and participating in activities on the way. The guys that I was able to go with were a ton of fun. I can still hear Jay telling terrible jokes as we went to sleep and Brent busting a gut laughing. I definitely wouldn’t have done this if it weren’t for scouting.

                There were many other activities that I enjoyed as well. We camped many times and in Scouting you are really given a lot of responsibility. You are given a budget and are tasked with preparing meals from start to finish, including the grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning. This definitely gives you a good perspective on how much work goes into planning and cooking meals at home as a kid. There were plenty of times when things didn’t work out so great and you also had to deal with the consequences of that. We weren’t all top chefs anyway! I think that is another great thing about Scouting in that you learn that things are not always given and prepared for you. You have to learn to fend for yourself and be responsible and accountable.

                I had a lot of great times in scouting. I made some great friends, I made lifelong memories and I learned how to be a good citizen. It is a time I will always cherish and be proud of.

                From a former scout,
                Pat

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